As I'm reading thru the paper today between phone calls (got the whole thing read today ... lots of time between calls), and I come across this article about a church's ongoing exercise (based on the range in dates of the various letters found - all between 1970 - 79) in faith and prayer. The church's pastor had apparently instructed the congregation to write their prayers out and deliver them to the altar. Most apparently took on a correspondence format directed to God. The assumption is that, once the exercise was completed, the pastor could not bring himself to dispose of these letters, so he stored them with his personal belongings ... unopened. The pastor passed away about 2 years ago.
Along comes his surviving family, presumably his children, sorting thru his belongings and clearing out his house when they stumble across these same inked prayers. Recognizing them for what they are, and apparently unable to bring themselves to destroy or dispose of them as well, whoever found them decided to "bless" (the article's author's term) these utterings by binding them within a plastic shopping bag and tossing them out into the Atlantic.
Cue random investment banker taking his 16 year old sun out fishing. They happen across this same bag, a la message in a bottle, and begin to open these sealed private thoughts, not knowing what they'd found. Some were amusing ("let me win the lottery ... twice" - with specific dollar amounts requested) while most were of a serious nature. By some chance, a business card of the deceased parishioner with the number of the church. This is how the story comes full circle and I am able to read and retell of it.
Here's the big deal of the entire story (to me at least). The father and son think it a pity that the salvaged documents had gone "unread" and plan to do their part by putting these letters up for auction on eBay. I can think of nothing worse to do with the result of something that began with such pure-hearted and sacred intent. Words such as blasphemy, heresy, and sacrilegious come to mind, but those are too strong. More apt, I suppose, would be naive, ignorant, and maybe to some degree arrogant and callous.
God forgive me for the way I feel about this. He knew every one of those thoughts, and the sincerity behind them, before the pen touched the paper. Perhaps these surviving petitions will serve as witness to the faith taught by that very exercise begun over 30 years ago.